Bring your life into balance

Empathy works. It always does.

Beginning Anew (2/3)

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The second step of Beginning Anew is expressing regret.

Beginning Anew (2-3)The first step, appreciation, builds a context where you see the other person and yourself as human beings with the ability to contribute to life. Your appreciation conveys the message that you include yourself in the respect for your basic goodness. Regret isn’t an invitation to beat up on you, do the “you’re-a-bad-person” bashing or play a guilt trip. Regret is not about taking the blame for how the other person feels. Regret is about mourning what you did that contributed to needs being unmet.
An apology NVC-style is the same as any other NVC-expression: observations, feelings, needs: “I feel sad to see you feel upset over the way I expressed myself. I understand your needs for emotional safety, consideration and respect weren’t met. I wished I had taken three deep breaths to calm myself down and remind myself of my aspiration to show up with compassion and empathy.” Your regret can end with a connection request: “What did you hear me say?” or: “How does that land for you?” Or you can end with a solution request: “What can I say or do to restore connection and trust?”

When you express a regret, you want to keep in mind that what you did (or didn’t do) is not who you are. You are not a bad, disrespectful, inconsiderate, egoistic person, because you did something you regret in retrospect. When you made the choice you now regret, you tried to meet a precious, universal need. Perhaps you didn’t have enough resources and creativity to make a choice that included all needs: yours and those of other stakeholders. When you hold your actions as the tragic expression of unmet needs, you build a container of self-acceptance and self-compassion. This compassionate environment supports learning how to show up differently and honor your values.

Expressing regret is also an opportunity to learn about the other person, their sensitivities, vulnerabilities, and needs. Your regret is an acknowledgment of their pain. You convey that you are aware of how your actions contributed to the pain of their unmet needs and that you care enough about them and the relationship to express your mourning.

Once your regret is shared and understood, you both can brainstorm strategies that might have worked better. You can ask for input to expand the creativity and resources you were lacking in the first place.

The first step of “Beginning Anew” is appreciation. The second is regret. This is the basis for deeper understanding and compassion. For others. For ourselves.


You want to learn to Begin Anew? Contact me, 512-589-0482 for a free, discovery session.

Author: Elly van Laar

I am a coach. I specialize in helping mission-driven professionals bring their lives into balance. I have a Master's degree in Political Science, Leiden University, the Netherlands. I'm currently in an ICF-coaching certification program. I love meditation, walking, gardening, biking, and hanging out with family and friends.

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